How to save two million lives

Wiping out the biggest killers of children will require co-ordinated effort in 15 interventions, from clean water to antibiotics to vaccines – not a magic bullet

By Sarah Boseley

A global plan to save the lives of the 2 million children who die from pneumonia and diarrhoea every year – the most common causes of death in children – is launched on Friday and deserving of much applause. It is not just about vaccines and it is not just about clean water, but about pushing forward on those and all the other well-known fronts at the same time. This is a truly joined-up approach that has the ambition and the ability to end all these deaths by 2025.

Four papers in a Lancet series spell out the situation and the progress that can be made. There are 15 interventions that work. On their own, each will save some lives. Together they could transform child survival – wiping out the causes of over a quarter (28.5%) of child deaths. In 2011, the authors estimate, there were 700,000 diarrhoea deaths in children under five and 1.3 million pneumonia deaths. Deaths are falling in many countries thanks to efforts to reach the millennium development goals, but in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Chad and Mali, they are still rising.

Continue reading